KSAP Online End of Year Show 2020

Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) are excited to announce that we will be hosting our End of Year Show 2020 as an online exhibition this year.

Head of School, Professor Gerald Adler, writes, “What a year this has been, our fifteenth since the establishment of the School at the University! We began last September on an optimistic note: last summer we had gained continuing and unconditional validation from the RIBA for our Part One and Two programmes. This is no mean feat, and I thank all colleagues for the work involved in this, and all students whose work we used as evidence and who engaged in lively discussions with the Visiting Board.

We also launched two new postgraduate programmes: the PGDip Architectural Practice, our Part 3 course run by Peter Wislocki, and a new MSc in Bio Digital Architecture, directed by Tim Ireland. We are currently going through the process of seeking RIBA Validation and ARB Prescription for the Part 3, and hope to have our first graduates later this year.

We have welcomed new colleagues to the School, as well as putting some seasoned teachers onto a firmer footing with us. We have pioneered a new ‘Practitioner’ Contract, aimed specifically at design practitioners, and have engaged Felicity Atekpe, John Letherland, Fiona Raley and Alan Powers on fractional posts. While we were sad to say goodbye to Patrick Crouch last year, we have engaged Tim Meacham as our in-house artist, working mainly in Stage One.

Under Chloe Street Tarbatt’s direction, the BA (Hons) Architecture course has seen changes in the teaching pattern and use of space, where we now run design/technology studio in Stages Two and Three over two days. In the MArch, Michael Richards has built on the success of the programme by fostering the great diversity in approach afforded by the Unit system, which you will be able to explore in our online End of Year Show 2020, which I warmly invite you to join us in celebrating our students’ fantastic work.”

Welcome you to explore our End of Year Show 2020 which is now live.

 

Professor Samer Bagaeen discusses 5G on #PlanTalk

Professor of Planning, and MA Urban Planning and Resilience Programme Director, Samer Bagaeen, recently joined Peter Kemp from the Greater London Authority in a discussion titled, ‘5G – A Double Edged Sword?’.

#PlanTalk raises the questions, “How ready are we for this jump when some areas struggle even with 4G? How has Brighton performed as a hotbed for this technology? what technology is going to benefit? What are the planning implications for new masts? Do the social benefits for instance being able to plan for resilience outweigh the environmental impact? There are so many questions around this topic and the technologies linked to it such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and driver-less cars.”

Watch the full discussion on YouTube.

MSc Architectural Conservation student, Asma Haddouk, shares her experience of studying at University of Kent

MSc Architectural Conservation student, Asma Haddouk, shares her experience of studying the conservation of historic buildings at the University of Kent over on the MSc Architectural Conservation blog with her post titled, ‘Thoughts from a Medieval Chapel – Studying Architectural Conservation at Kent‘.

The MSc in Architectural Conservation is fully recognised by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). The course provides both a thorough understanding of architectural heritage and the skills required to contribute to the preservation and development of historic sites. Benefiting from its location in the historic city of Canterbury, the programme combines the study of conservation theory and philosophy with an exploration of the technical aspects of repair and reconstruction. The city’s stunning cathedral provides students with an education resource, giving them the opportunity to learn from the conservation of a World Heritage Site.

 

Dr Tim Ireland publishes new paper, ‘Bateson Information Revisited: A New Paradigm’

Director of Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), and programme director for MSc Bio Digital Architecture, Dr Tim Ireland has published a new paper titled, ‘Bateson Information Revisited: A New Paradigm‘. This paper is the latest in a line of papers written in collaboration with Dr Jaime Cardenas-Garcia, University of Maryland. This paper is product of a presentation by Dr Cardenas-Garcia at Conference Theoretical Information Studies (TIS), which took place in Berkeley, California in June 2019.

The goal of this work is to explain a novel information paradigm claiming that all information results from a process, intrinsic to living beings, of self-production; a sensory commensurable, self-referential feedback process immanent to Bateson’s difference that makes a difference. To highlight and illustrate this fundamental process, a simulation based on one-parameter feedback is presented. It simulates a homeorhetic process, innate to organisms, illustrating a self-referenced, autonomous system. The illustrated recursive process is sufficiently generic to be the only basis for information in nature: from the single cell, to multi-cellular organisms, to consideration of all types of natural and non-natural phenomena, including tools and artificial constructions.

IMAGE CREDIT: IS4SI 2019 SUMMIT

Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti interviewed by TRT World on life of Vittorio Gregotti

Professor of Architecture and Urban Regeneration, Gordana Fontana-Giusti, was recently interviewed for a second time by Turkish television channel, TRT World as part of their flagship arts and culture programme, ‘Showcase’ on 4 May.

The episode titled, ‘Obituaries during the pandemic’ invited Professor Fontana-Giusti to discuss the life and work of renowned Italian architect and urban designer, Vittorio Gregotti, who sadly passed away of Covid-19 on 15 March in Milan. The interview discusses Vittorio Gregotti’s role in establishing architecture as a key art form and his life’s work including his work on industrialisation and the organisation of the Milan Triennale in the 1960s.

Watch the full interview online now. Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti’s segment begins at 7m 50s.

‘Think Kent Discovers’ launches with ‘Restoring the Palace of Westminster’ by Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt

University of Kent’s Research Services and KMTV commissioned a series of research documentaries titled, ‘Think Kent Discovers’ whereby researchers and field experts will host interactive talks featuring topical discussions.

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt‘s documentary, ‘Restoring the Palace of Westminster’ which originally premiered at the RIBA in London at the end of 2019, will be live streamed on Tuesday 19th May 2020 at 19.00 on YouTube and the University of Kent’s Facebook page.

The film analyses Dr Schoenefeldt’s extensive research project on the Houses of Parliament’s historic ventilation system and how it shaped the overall design of the building. Following the film screening, there will be presentations from PhD students who have been involved in the project, and a live panel debate featuring:

  • Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Architecture at the University of Kent
  • Professor Dean Hawkes, Emeritus Professor of Architectural Design at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University and an Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College, University of Cambridge
  • Richard Ware, Former Director of the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme

This is a free event; book your place via EventBrite.

Future events as part of the ‘Think Kent Discovers’ series are:

Thursday 28 May at 19.00: “Mary Rose – A Chemical Conundrum”
The documentary explores how a team from the School of Physical Sciences helped to preserve, and put on display, the pride of the Tudor fleet.

Week commencing 1 June: “Peru – A Living Memory” (details to be confirmed)
Researcher Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, from School of European Culture and Languages, wants to teach citizens about all aspects of  Peru’s history in order to create a fully realised national identity for future generations of Peruvians.

If you have any queries, please feel free to email ref2021@kent.ac.uk

Dr Peter Buš publishes new article, ‘On-Site Participation for Proto-Architectural Assemblies’

Lecturer and member of Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), Dr Peter Buš, has recently written an article titled, ‘On-site participation for proto-architectural assemblies encompassing technology and human improvisation: “Fish Trap” and “Orchid” architectural interventions‘ which has been published in the special issue of Complexity. Complexity is a journal specialising in reporting ‘advances in the scientific study of complex systems’. Dr Buš’ article features in their special issue titled, ‘Tales of Two Societies: On the complexity of the coevolution between physical space and the cyber space’.

Dr Peter Buš writes, “This research investigates the notion of builders’ on-site engagement to physically build architectural interventions based on their demands, spatial requirements, and collaborative improvisation enhanced with the principles of uniqueness and bespoke solutions which are previously explored in computational models.

The paper compares and discusses two physical installations as proto-architectural assemblies testing two different designs and building approaches: the top-down predefined designers’ scenario contrary to bottom-up unpredictable improvisation. It encompasses a building strategy based on the discrete precut components assembled by builders themselves in situ.

The paper evaluates both strategies in a qualitative observation and comparison defining advantages and limitations of the top-down design strategy in comparison with the decentralised bottom-up building system built by the builders themselves. As such, it outlines the position of a designer within the bottom-up building processes on-site. The paper argues that improvisation and builders’ direct engagement on-site lead to solutions that better reflect human needs and low-tech building principles incorporated can deliver unpredictable but convenient spatial scenarios.”

COVID-19 Pandemic: A Plea for Pro-Active Urban Planning by Urban Planner, John Letherland

Today we are living in an unprecedented state of uncertainty, in the midst of a viral attack on humankind that is having profound effect on our health and our urban way of life. While it may be the most immediately severe, the COVID-19 pandemic is the not the only crisis causing us to question the way we coexist and our relationship with the world, affected as we are by climate change and the erosion of our eco-system, conflict, religious persecution, displacement of communities and the ever-rising gap between the rich and poor.

As an urban species, growth and quality of human habitat are some of the biggest issues we face today. In the context of the largest wave of urbanisation in human history, for the first time more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Sadly, this isn’t the first global pandemic we have had to face, and probably not the last; it is the proximity within which we live our lives that is one of the main reasons why the virus has been so successful in taking hold.

Cities have played a critical part in human development for almost 10,000 years and they continue to grow in importance as the primary form of human habitation. By 2050, the UN predicts there will be 9 billion humans and that two thirds will live in cities. As the global population continues to grow unabated, the urgent need for space and resources places us in competition with our environment as well as our fellow humans. Paradoxically, it is generally accepted that high-density living is the most efficient way for people to live with lowest carbon footprint, where infrastructure and transport networks can be effective and run efficiently.

Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies, where infectious epidemic diseases (such as smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera, etc) have been the major cause of death. But, when we take as an example the violent outbreak of cholera in London in 1854 and the waves of bubonic plague that hit London in 17th century (killing an estimated 100,000 people), it is clear that the rapid spread of disease was symptomatic of a wider malaise – massive unplanned growth in population that the infrastructure couldn’t cope with.

‘…London in 1854 was a Victorian metropolis trying to make do with an Elizabethan public infrastructure.’

– Steven Johnson: The Ghost Map

The current COVID-19 pandemic must therefore be seen in a broader historical context and recognised as a symptom, not the cause, of a wider global problem – a huge explosion of growth in our urban population that, like the earlier lessons in time, has not been adequately learned and planned for. It is easy to be wise after the event, but contagious diseases are more predictable in our high-density urban centres, particularly in the context of expanding urban populations. Surviving and recovering well from pandemics like COVID-19 will therefore depend upon creating healthier cities. So, is it possible to turn this crisis into an opportunity for good urban place-making and the benefits this can bring us?

Now, more than ever, is perhaps the moment to think about what can be done to make our cities healthier. Cities are irrational organisms with a unique character and life of their own; like any organism they need to be fed and nurtured, their waste removed and their arteries kept clear to enable them to evolve and grow healthily. This includes providing them with breathing spaces – the parks, gardens and green spaces – where people can relax in open space, enjoy nature, breathe fresh air and exercise within the context of social distancing.

Large urban populations mean that fewer people have access to open space and nature, and cities like London, New York and Madrid have suffered more than most from the COVID-19 infection. However, living in high densities does not automatically equate to living in insanitary or under-privileged conditions. Evidence suggests that some of the highest density boroughs in London, for example, are also those in which residents enjoy the best health and the highest life expectancy. There is a direct correlation between these areas and the location of some of London’s largest and most treasured open green spaces. After the crisis has abated, there will be many things we need to do to set things straight; perhaps amongst these we could make our cities of tomorrow more liveable and resilient by making them greener and healthier.

This may sound like a solution more suited to the planning of new cities, but history shows us that we can adapt and retrofit our existing cities successfully, often on a grand scale. As Jack Shenker points out in his recent Guardian article of 26 March 2020 (Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life), the splendour of the Victoria embankment resulted directly from the construction of Joseph Bazalgette’s innovative sewerage system in direct response to the 1850’s cholera outbreak in London. Around the same time, Louis Napoleon and Baron Haussmann were in the process of transforming the congested and disease-infested inner-city slums of Paris into a network of beaux-arts style, tree-lined boulevards that would ease congestion, improve living standards, generate prosperity, eradicate cholera and in due course create a city that continues to captivate the world.

In the UK, London has its unique network of Royal Parks, green spaces and garden squares, and urban expansion in the Georgian and Victorian eras was planned around them. As a direct descendent of this tradition, the city has made a commitment to transform itself into the world’s first city-based ‘National Park City’ – aimed at coordinating and linking existing green spaces to make the city’s greener, healthier and wilder outdoor space more publicly accessible.

Similarly, Boston in the US benefits from the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, who built an entire park system for the city in the 1870’s known as the ‘Emerald Necklace’. This investment in green infrastructure is a wonderful seven-mile-long network of parks, meadows, marshlands, and pathways that winds through the city and provides a sanctuary from the clamour and grit of urban life. Boston continues to lead the world in city planning with its more recentResilient Harbour Project’, a series of elevated green landscapes, pathways and protective parks along its 47-mile low-lying shoreline to better protect the area from flooding and increase public access to the waterfront.

Other global cities are also leading the way in investment in ‘green infrastructure’, many conceived in response to the climate crisis and yet all providing inspiration for how to make our cities more liveable, resilient and healthy in the context of the current pandemic. China is designing 16 ‘Sponge Cities’; areas piloting ecologically-friendly alternatives to traditional flood defences. Lush vegetation is being planted to bring down the temperature, and large green open spaces created with permeable pavements, rain gardens, grass swales, artificial ponds and wetlands to absorb rising flood waters.

New York was widely applauded for the transformation of an elevated rail viaduct on the west side of Manhattan into the ‘High Line’, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park that took its inspiration from the earlier ‘Promenade Plantée’ in Paris. Now a more ambitious project is planned, called the ‘Dryline’: 10 miles of flood defences along the shoreline will be provided by acres of green space containing protective berms and planting, walkways, promenades and bike paths to protect the city from hurricanes.

In contrast, organising cities like Paris on a smaller scale can also be a demonstration of proactive and big picture thinking. Mayor Anne Hidalgo is proposing to phase out vehicles and to reinvent the city centre as a ‘15-Minute City’ or ‘La Ville du Quart d’Heure’. The aim is to offer Parisians what they need, on or near their doorstep, to ensure an ‘ecological transformation’ and to reinforce the capital as a collection of characterful neighbourhoods or ‘Urban Villages’. This, she hopes, will decrease the need for travel, reducing pollution and stress in the process and create socially and economically mixed districts to improve the overall quality of urban life for residents and visitors.

It would be naïve to imagine that we can eradicate all disease but also inappropriate to think that urban life is doomed as a result. Cities will continue to hold the key to the entire world’s future as centres of civilised culture and expression, and as a vital part of the solution to the climate and health. However, the current pandemic is highly likely to require the further reshaping of our cities, and rightly so as we continue to learn from it.

The role of today’s architects and urbanists in pro-active urban planning is therefore more important than ever, if we are to rise to the challenge of continuing to thrive in close proximity to each other in dense urban populations into the future.

By John Letherland
Urban Planner and Master Planner
Programme Director: MA Architecture and Urban Design

Applying to MArch? Professional experience requirement waived for entry in 2020

Kent School of Architecture and Planning’s MArch architecture programme is validated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The award is also prescribed by the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB) as giving exemption from Part 2 of their professional examinations. Typically, we ask for applicants to have a minimum of six months’ experience in professional practice prior to starting the course.

However, in light of the current economic situation, the condition of six months’ experience in professional practice prior to starting the course will be waived for entry in 2020. Students admitted to the programme without the usual year-out experience may intermit their studies between the two years of the March programme to gain practical experience. However, this will not be mandatory.

If you currently finishing an undergraduate degree and applying without any year-out practical experience, your application can only be made once you know the outcome of your degree.

If you have any queries about the application process or what is required, please email ksapadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

Former KSAP PhD student, Itab Shuayb, publishes new book

A big congratulations to former KSAP PhD student, Dr Itab Shuayb, who has published her new book titled, ‘Inclusive University Built Environments: The Impact of Approved Document M, for Architects, Designers and Engineers‘.

Dr Shuayb’s book focuses on an area of her PhD research which was to investigate whether universities adopting the British Accessibility regulations have impacted the built environment to the level that it became inclusive or whether the built environment is accessible for only people with mobility impairment. Dr Shuayb’s PhD research was done in collaboration with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) their specialists for inclusive design. CABE’s inclusive design work has since been incorporated into the Design Council agenda. Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti was Itab’s first supervisor, with her second supervisor being Ann Sawyer, an access consultant based in London.

Dr Shuayb writes, “This book focuses on examining accessibility in the educational sector in the UK to investigate whether adopting an inclusive design approach in a university setting is preferable to just meeting legal building requirements. Six building case studies at the University of Kent were selected in order to investigate whether the design solutions had addressed the needs of a wide range of users. Moreover, the book investigates the impact of the legislation and Building Regulations on  six different university buildings dating from six different decades, the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, at the Universities of Essex, Bath and Kent to determine whether they have achieved inclusive design .The book then sets out a proposal to deliver the benefits of adopting the inclusive design approach by recommending alternative design solutions to tackle accessibility barriers that affect a wide range of users, including individuals with disabilities at the University of Kent.”